Returning to the Office Will Be Just as Hard as Adjusting to Remote Work - Expert

NW 11:14:31 24-02-2021

Returning to the Office
Will Be Just as Hard as Adjusting
to Remote Work - Expert

Sofia, February 24 (BTA) - Todor Kapitanov, labour law expert and National Secretary of the Confederation of Independent Trade Unions in Bulgaria, predicts that returning to the office will be the next major issue. Re-adjusting to the physical workplace will be just as hard as getting used to teleworking because employees have acquired new habits, Kapitanov told BTA.

The latest Eurofound survey shows that 30 per cent of employees in Bulgaria are working from home, compared to 3 to 5 per cent in 2017. The pandemic has accelerated processes observed in the last ten years, said Kapitanov.

Employers are wondering if they will ever be able to make employees return to the office. Some businesses have taken monthly polls only to find out that 70 per cent of employees do not want to go back to their physical workplace. At this point it is not clear whether this is prompted by safety concerns or by new habits, the expert commented.

Despite the advantages of remote work, the pandemic has raised the issue of protecting people working from home. Kapitanov asserts that Bulgarian legislation covers at-home work injuries, which must be ascertained by the General Labour Inspectorate (GLI) as is the usual procedure.

Besides, an employer is obliged to ensure proper lighting, consumables and an ergonomic office chair, he said. The law is adamant that employers must provide all the right conditions for work at home the way they do in the office, including a computer, a printer, a proper desk and lighting and phone call facilities. If the employer fails to make available the proper equipment, people should alert the GLI, which can run an inspection, said Kapitanov.

The expert has set up, the latest Bulgarian platform for questions about rights in the workplace. Starting this week, Bulgarians can get free and reliable legal advice on their rights concerning sick notes and sick leave.

In the three weeks since the platform went online, more than 600 people have received free, automated legal advice. So far clients have accessed the platform about dismissal and/or quitting (27 per cent), work during the pandemic (17 per cent), unemployment benefits (15 per cent), pregnancy and maternity rights (14 per cent) and retirement (11 per cent). NV/DD